Uni is the World’s Best Guide Dog


Note: I was going to post this last week but never got around to it. I’m posting it now so you can see how hard a decision it was to make to retire her on medical grounds. This next post will explain what happened and deal with the aftermath.

I need to say that because I don’t say it enough. The thing is, Uni isn’t exactly the dog in promotional material; she’s over-friendly, she scavenges, she needs love like the rest of us need air. She’s basically me in canine form which, as much as I hate the person who matched me with her, they did get it right. I bitch about her constantly but then it’s my right and I do love her, lots.

This is her post-run at Eaton Park; this is her truly content and happy, also knackered. Tongue lolling and sated from a pint of fresh water. There was even a ball. Uni loves balls, they’re like her favourite thing ever, especially when she doesn’t give it to you. Unfortunately her version, her personal definition, of Retriever is ‘I’m gonna bring the ball but only to show you, not because it’s yours or anything’. But then that’s part of her charm. Uni isn’t Bramble, she’s not perfect and calm, she’s excitable and loves any deviation to the daily routine.

Last night I had to get my medication so we got off several stops earlier and her tail started wagging, she started—though exhausted and thirsty—being her old self. It doesn’t last long but then she’s not been well. A couple of weeks ago, she got ill from eating something. While she perked up, she hasn’t really been her usual chirpy self. Then, last Friday, she started having problems from the other end to the point where it looked like she was trying to give birth to her own intestines (news flash: this is not an approved dog shitting position).

She was okay, except for the violence of her need to go to the loo every hour, and asking for food (Uni is truly, deathly ill, when you put a bowl in front of her and she turns her nose up at it). But my gut said vet so I took her, asking if this could be connected or a resurgence of whatever she’d had previously. A couple of days of fecal samples (don’t ask) later and we now know what it is.

Technically I can say the word, I just don’t like to. I did to one person and it totally freaked them out. It appears far too often in newspapers with panic attached. The point is, she’s been on seriously hard-core antibiotics all week, I’ve not gotten sick and neither have my nearest/dearest/their dogs (and if this was transmissible, we’d all be down with it and that includes my three cats). There’s a lot to be said for common sense and washing your hands (though I still got the Hygiene 101 lecture from Guide Dogs).

Yeah, six years and one very bout of illness taught me all I need to know about catching nasties from your guide dog. Ta.

Uni’s still ill but this is probably more down to how shit antibiotics feel. When I’m on them, and I avoid them like the plague, I’m very vocal. Uni can’t bitch in quite the same way but she’s drinking water and doing lots of sleeping. She’s still working though her ability to deal with trips home is almost none-existant. I’m hoping this is simple fatigue. We’re waiting on some medication which will help return her stomach to it’s ‘normal’ state (think actimel for dogs) rather than the swirling cesspool. I’m trying to feed her good things (with a little fruit on the side as it turns out she likes melon. Weird dog.) I’m also temporarily revoking petting rights to everyone, bar my closest friends (most of whom have dogs of their own), just in case. Because you really can never be too careful.

I need to say I have the best guide dog ever because I think it’s Time. This has been on my mind for a while; Uni’s nearly 8 which while still young for a dog is the second part of her working life. She’s not as young as she was and I work her hard. We’re out six days out of seven, usually, we go places and do things. She loves being out, being around people (especially if they’re her group of puppies, the humans she’s adopted like Shannon and Marie, as part of our pack; I get no say in this, apparently, so it’s a good job I like the people she picks).

The problem for me is Uni acts, unofficially, as my emotional support. She picks up on my anxiety and by seeing hers, I realise I have to be the stronger one and control my own. Plus dog hugs solve everything. She also loves me, but unlike other dogs, it’s a very private thing. I confess I’m jealous of my friends’ relationships with their dogs, Gismo is very demonstrative (and 45kg to boot) and soppy, Bramble looks at you like you’re the only other person in the world, full on Unconditional LOVE, for everyone. I want to cry every time she puts her head on my knee before she just adores you on this total, absolute level.

Uni doesn’t do that. Uni’s idea of love is to grin (which is terrifying the first time you see a dog doing it) first thing in the morning, to wait for me at the top of the stairs if I nip out without her. She’ll want to play and bring me her ball. Actually, she spends so much of her time, when we’re home, literally on my feet. As close as she can be. Any dog who sits on your feet loves you.

There are many kinds of love.

Plus she’s never gotten me killed, she remembers what her job is. That’s a massive plus.

This illness of hers, while she will recover, it’s kind of hit home that our relationship is coming to an end. Something’s shifted inside of her and she’s Tired with a capital T. She puts on a mask when we go out, a happy face, but when we get home she looks at me like she’s run a marathon.

We have an appointment in two weeks to see her specialist vet but I’ve already expressed my belief that it’s coming up to the point where we call time. The problem for me is multi-faceted; I self-harm in a very unique and twisted way: I try to get rid of Uni because I don’t feel I deserve her.

Yep, totally fucked up. I know.

My bipolar makes this worse, especially during my periods of intense depression.

Except this is different. I don’t want to get rid of her, I’m concerned for her quality of life and that’s the most important thing.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.